History of Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

was founded by Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 King Gustav Vasa
Gustav I of Sweden
Gustav I of Sweden, born Gustav Eriksson of the Vasa noble family and later known simply as Gustav Vasa , was King of Sweden from 1523 until his death....

 in 1550 as the town of Helsingfors. Gustav intended for the town to serve the purpose of consolidating trade in the southern part of Finland and providing a competitor to Reval
Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

 (today: Tallinn), a nearby Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

 city which dominated local trade at the time. In order to ensure the economic viability of the city, the King ordered the citizens of several other towns to relocate to Helsinki, but the order does not seem to have achieved its intended effect. The Swedish acquisition of northeastern Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, including Reval, at the conclusion of the Livonian War
Livonian War
The Livonian War was fought for control of Old Livonia in the territory of present-day Estonia and Latvia when the Tsardom of Russia faced a varying coalition of Denmark–Norway, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Union of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland.During the period 1558–1578,...

, caused the Swedish crown to lose interest in building up a competitor to Reval, and Helsingfors languished as a forgotten village for decades thereafter.

In 1640, Helsinki was moved from its original location at the mouth of the river Vantaa
Vantaa is a city and municipality in Finland. Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen make up the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.Vantaa, with its population of , is the fourth most populated city of Finland. The biggest airport in Finland, the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, is located there...

 (in Swedish: Vanda), but the improved harbour failed to attract traders. It was fortified by the Swedish authorities, after Russia began to assert itself in the Baltic with the foundation of St. Petersburg, by Sveaborg/Viapori (today Suomenlinna) to protect the city from Russian attacks. The fortifications began in 1748.

When sovereignty over Finland was transferred from Sweden to Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 in 1809, the Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n government decided to relocate the Finnish capital from Turku
Turku is a city situated on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River. It is located in the region of Finland Proper. It is believed that Turku came into existence during the end of the 13th century which makes it the oldest city in Finland...

 (in Swedish: Åbo) - on the edge of the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 - to Helsinki. It was believed that the relative lack of Swedish influence in Helsinki, combined with its greater closeness to St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, would make a Finnish government headquartered there easier to control. The fortress of Sveaborg also made the place less vulnerable from overseas. The Russian authorities rebuilt the city, intending to turn it into a stylish modern capital along the lines of St. Petersburg.

During the 19th century, Helsinki became the economic and cultural center of Finland. Beginning from the late 19th century, the Finnish language
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

became more and more dominant in the city, since the people, who moved in from the countryside mostly spoke Finnish.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the city was already predominantly Finnish-speaking, although with a large Swedish-speaking minority. Nowadays the Swedish speakers are a small minority. The population of the city grew rapidly after the relocation of the capital there, as is demonstrated by the following table.

Historical population of Helsinki

1810: 4,070 inhabitants
1830: 11,100
1850: 20,700
1880: 43,300
1900: 93,600
1925: 209,800
1960: 425,000
2001: 559,718
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